There is a pride that comes with tinted car windows. Most car owners see improvement in terms of aesthetics. While nearly all modern cars have been equipped with tints, you may have difficulty figuring out which is the best for you and why, after all, install a tint.

15 Tint Vs 20: photo

Cars have become the number one target for burglars. And one factor that triggers theft is interior visibility. To prevent thieves from targeting your car, you need to tint it so they will have no clue what items are in the trunk. Secondly, they will doubt whether someone is inside the car or not.

Other reasons for tinting the car are to prevent UV light from penetrating through the windshield or windows and create privacy while driving. So, 15 vs 20 tint: What’s the difference? Read on to the next topic.

What Do 20 and 15 Mean in Tints?

The numbers indicate the percentage of light the tints can allow inside the car. So, how dark is 20 tint? The 20% tint allows only 20% of the light from the outside. How dark is 15 tint? A 15% tint will allow only 15% of the light from outside.

So, the higher the percentage, the higher the visibility of the tint. And if the percentage is low, like 5%, the interior will be darker even on a sunny day.

Read about: Best Car Window Tint

Differences Between 15 and 20 Tint

The two tints have a wide range of differences, although you may learn their light penetration percentage differs by only 5%. Below we have discussed all the differences to enable you to make a better decision:

1. Privacy

Both tints create a decent level of privacy. But the 15 percent tint on car will create more privacy than the 20%. With the 20% tint, you can spot some items in the car during the day because a higher amount of light can penetrate inside. But with the 15% tint, you may have difficulty seeing everything inside.

2. Legality

Since visibility is the key to road safety, highly dark tints are not allowed in most states. In several states, you will note that a 15% tint isn’t allowed at all. Rather, they prefer the 20% or above tints since darker ones can tamper with the visibility and cause accidents.

However, some states allow 15% tint on the rear windshield and the back windows. The front windows prefer higher light percentages like 35% or 50%. Mostly, the regulations are based on the state’s climate.

For instance, in tropical regions where the weather is sunny, you can use a 15% tint. But when it comes to winter climates where you struggle to see beyond a few meters, you cannot use a 15% or even 20% tint. So, in terms of legalities, a 20% tint is preferable.

3. Light Transmission

The percentage in these tints shows the amount of light that penetrates through them. A 15% tint will reflect 85% of the light and allow only 15% light inside the car. On the other hand, a 20% tint reflects 80% and allows only 20% light.

So, if you don’t need much light or live in tropical climates, you may use 15% tint. But if you need more light for a better driving experience, a 20% tint is better.

4. Heat Rejection

When it comes to UV rays in the car, you would want to repel them almost completely for comfort. A 15% tint is better when it comes to heat rejection. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a bit of sun, go for the 20% tint.

However, if your car has a sunroof, you are good to go for the 15% tint. During the day, when you need more sun and privacy, you can slide the sunroof and enjoy.

5. Night Driving

Another big difference between the two tints is the night visibility. A 15% tint will have poor visibility during the night, while a 20% tint will be clearer. Many drivers argue that tints work best during the night to reflect street lights and make driving easier. But what if you use a road without streetlights? You need a clearer tint of 35% or 50% in this situation. I would go for the 20% tint on night driving.

Night Driving: photo

6. Appearance

What does 15 tint look like? It appears darker than the 20% tint. The appearance is based on what suits your car best. If you want a more dramatic look, go for the 15% tint. But a 20% tint will work best if you want a subtler look.

Besides the appearance, you would want the tint type that will rhyme with your interior. So, if you have a darker interior, forget much about the appearance and consider visibility because it can make the interior so dark.

7. Price

Normally, darker tints cost more than lighter tints. As such, a 15% tint will cost more than a 20% tint. If you are on a budget, a 20% tint will suit you best.

15% Vs 20% Tint: Which Is Better?

15% and 20% tints are all good. The choice depends on the user’s interests. We will look at which outweighs the other in several factors. Read on:

1. Usability

A 20% tint will be less reflective, while a 15% tint will be highly reflective. That means on those sunny days, a 20% tint will be better for your eyes because it cuts down on the glare. Reduced glare will save you from a potential crash because you can see everything clearly from afar. So, on usability, we choose 20% tint.

2. UV Rays Protection

A 15% tint will reflect more UV rays and make your car interior cooler. So if you are conformable with driving and your state laws allow a 15% tint, then go for it. In conclusion, a 15% tint is excellent for UV ray protection.

4. Visibility

A 15% tint allows less light into the cabin. This can cause a lot of struggle, especially during the night. A 20% tint is lighter and can allow more light in the cabin for a better driving experience. So, we recommend 20% tint for visibility.

5. Aesthetics

A 15% and 20% tint will give different outlooks based on your car’s color. Make a better comparison before installing the tint to determine what works best. You can check 15 window tint before and after installation and determine what’s best. The same case with 20 percent tint on car. On aesthetics, we leave the car owner to make the decision.

6. Affordability

The 20% tint is less expensive than the 15% tint. Luckily, this is the most preferred tint regarding several state traffic rules. In conclusion, a 20% tint is more affordable.

Levels of Tint Shades

Several tints are measured in terms of the light they allow into the car. They range from 5%, the darkest, to 90%, the lightest. The most popular tint shades are:

a) Light smoke – it allows 50% of the light to penetrate the car’s interior. You can see what’s inside the car with the light smoke tint. However, it protects the car occupants from the excessive sun since it allows half of the light inside.

b) Smoke – it allows 35% of the light to the cabin. This tint is used for aesthetic looks and creates the best vision for day and night. In fact, many drivers prefer smoke tints on the front windows while using darker tints on the rear windows.

c) Midnight – it allows 20% of the light and is the most used in many states. This tint creates a darker look and gives a clearer vision during the day. You will need a lighter tint for night driving if the roads you use have no streetlights.

d) LIMO – it is commonly used in Limousine cars, thus the name Limo. This tint allows only 5% of the light into the cabin. As such, it is the darkest of all the tints. Mostly, this tint is used on the rear windows and windshield since it’s impossible to see the side mirrors if installed on the front windows.

Can You Tint Your Own Car?

Yes. If you want to cut labor costs, you can buy the tint and install it yourself. However, tinting the car requires a high level of experience because you can mess up the quality of the tint job. Ensure you measure the film correctly and cut it to fit the windows. Application is also another challenge. You don’t want to leave wrinkles and bubbles on the window.

Here is the procedure for tinting a car as a DIY job:

Step 1: Remove the stickers and adhesives from the windows. If there is sticky glue, scrub to get rid of them but be careful not to scratch the glass.

Step 2: Clean the windows with soapy water and dry them with a clean rag for better film adhesion.

Step 3: Roll up the windows but leave the key turned on because you will need to roll down the windows while working.

Step 4: Determine which side of the tint is adhesive. Just like the labels, the tint film can be peeled off. You should measure the tint while this side is facing you.

Step 5: Use the outside of the window as a template and measure the tint exceeding each side by a few inches.

Step 6: Apply the tint film carefully and trim the edges with a sharp razor blade. Check for bubbles and wrinkles, and peel the film off for better alignment. Ideally, use a heat gun to smoothen the film surface.


Can You Tint Your Own Car: photo

Although there are no federal tint laws, several states have set them for various reasons. One of the key reasons is to protect drivers from visibility issues. The second is to prevent citizens from taking advantage of their privacy and committing criminal acts. Here are some of the states that allow 15% tint:

California Rear windshield and back windows
Connecticut Back windows
Arizona Rear windshield and back windows
Louisiana Rear windows
Michigan All windows
Delaware Rear windshield and back windows
Florida Rear windshield and back windows
Lowa Rear windshield and back windows
Montana Rear windshield and back windows
Missouri Rear windshield and back windows


several other states have permitted 15% tint on back windows. They prefer lighter tints at the front windows for better visibility.

In Which States is 20% Allowed?

20% tint is the most common, and many states prefer it as the minimum shade. Below are some states that allow 20% tint:

Idaho Rear windows
Nebraska Rear and back windshield
New Mexico All windows and rear windshield.
South Dakota Rear windows and rear windshield.

Confirm with your state’s traffic department before tinting your car. This will save you from facing the law or endangering your life. Remember, tints are allowed depending on the area’s climate.

In Conclusion

20 vs 15 tint: Their main difference is the light they allow inside the car. A 15% tint reflects 85% of the light and allows only 15% in the car. On the other hand, the 20% tint allows 20% light and reflects 80%. Many states allow 20% of even lighter tints for better visibility. A 15% tint is suitable for the rear windows and the back windshield. Before tinting your car, confirm what tint shades are allowed by the law.